New Computer Virus ‘Ransomware’ Accuses You of Breaking the Law, Locks Your PC and Makes You Give Them Money
While viruses that hijack your computer is not a brand new thing, a new type of computer malware is taking stealing your information and ruining your day to the next level. This new bug completely locks your computer, showing a message telling the user pirated materials (illegally downloaded music, movies, etc.) have been found on your computer. The message then explains you need to pay for the stolen items in order to unlock your computer.
The message is made to look like an official message, with the only option to pay up or not use your computer. The text displayed even goes as far as to threaten legal action if you don't pay for your "stolen files". The reality is that the criminals behind this bug want you to hand over some money electronically so they not only become a little richer from your "donation", but also have your bank information to further pad their bank account.
This virus comes in a variety of "strains', including one that simply locks your computer and logs your password entries as you attempt to unlock it. These bugs generally come through security holes in web browsers and through commonly used programs like Adobe Flash, Java, and Adobe Reader. The suggestion tech professionals offer to protect yourself is to be sure you run updates for your browser and for programs like Flash and Java, as the makers of these programs are constantly patching security holes for things like this.
This threat has been largely limited to Europe since it was discovered, but it is certainly something to be aware of. The moral of the story is to listen to those update messages that pop up for things like Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Flash - and be smart with what you do online. Searching for things online using words like "free" or "game cheats" can lead to problems with your computer. I know; yet another thing to worry about, like that virus that might kill the internet in July.